Women and Foreign Policy: Is Everything We Know About Wartime Rape Wrong?

Date: 02/03/2016 Description: The Women and Foreign Policy series looks at the relationship between gender inequality and foreign policy, with a focus on solutions and best practices. - State Dept Image

Date: Friday, February 19, 2016
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. EST
Location: State Department
2201 C Street NW
Loy Henderson Auditorium


There’s little doubt that sexual violence in conflict is a criminal act, nor that survivors deserve support and services.

But why does sexual violence happen in conflict at all? And is it inevitable, or are our assumptions about rape in wartime all wrong? How does this affect our broader conflict prevention efforts?

On Friday, February 19, 2016, as part of the Women and Foreign Policy series, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell convened experts, policymakers, and practitioners to tackle these questions. The event explored the policy implications of emerging research on sexual violence in conflict and posed new questions to help frame a growing policy agenda on this issue.

About This Event

Featured Speakers

  • Dr. Dara Kay Cohen

Dara Kay Cohen is an assistant professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her forthcoming book, Rape During Civil War (Cornell University Press, 2016), examines the variation in the use of rape during recent civil conflicts; the research for the book draws on fieldwork in Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and El Salvador. Cohen received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and an A.B. in political science and philosophy from Brown University. Prior to joining the Kennedy School, she was an assistant professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

  • Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

Professor Ní Aoláin holds the Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy and Society at the University of Minnesota Law School and is concurrently Professor of Law & Associate Director at Ulster University’s Transitional Justice Institute (Belfast). Her book Law in Times of Crisis with Prof Oren Gross (CUP 2006) was awarded ASIL’s Certificate of Merit for creative scholarship (2007). She is co-author of On the Frontlines: Gender, War and the Post Conflict Process (OUP 2011). Ní Aoláin was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Special Expert on promoting gender equality in times of conflict and peace-making (2003). She has served as Expert to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims (2015), and Consultant to UN Women and OHCHR on a Study on Reparations for Conflict Related Sexual Violence (2013). She was nominated twice by the Irish Government as Judge to the European Court of Human Rights (2004 & 2007). She is Board Chair of the Open Society’s Women’ Program, and serves on the Board of the Center for Victims of Torture and the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security.

Women in Foreign Policy: Is Everything We Know about Wartime Rape Wrong? was the third event in a series of meetings hosted by Ambassador Russell. The Women and Foreign Policy series looks at the relationship between gender inequality and foreign policy, with a focus on solutions and best practices.

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